WHAT IS LIVING DONATION?
Living donation is when a living individual decides to donate a kidney or a portion of his or her liver or lung lobe to someone in need of a transplant. Often, the living donor is a blood relative; however, anyone can be tested for eligibility.
ADVANTAGES OF LIVING DONATION
When doctors are able to transplant an organ from one family member to another, the genetic match is stronger and often decreases the risk of rejection.
Living donation allows the procedure to be scheduled at a convenient time for both the donor and the recipient.
Kidney transplant recipients who receive a living donor kidney often see an immediate return to normal function.
WHAT ORGANS CAN LIVING DONORS GIVE?
Individuals can donate one of their two kidneys to a recipient, making this the most common type of living organ donation. Living kidney donation could eliminate up to 83 percent of the national transplant waiting list.
People can donate one of two lobes of their liver. The liver cells in the remaining lobe regenerate after the donation until the organ has regrown to almost its original size. This occurs in both the donor and recipient.
Lung lobes do not regenerate, but individuals can donate a lobe of one lung. Living lung donation occurs when two adults give the right and left lower lobes (from each, respectively) to a recipient. The donors’ lungs must be the right volume and size to be a correct match.
INCOMPATIBLE MATCH? YOU CAN STILL DONATE.
There are certain situations where incompatible organ transplants can be remedied through donor exchanges or specialized medical treatment. So, even if you’re diagnosed as an incompatible match for a loved one, your generous donation can still help:
- Paired exchange — Two sets of incompatible living kidney donors and candidates can sometimes trade their donors so that both parties can receive a compatible kidney.
- Waiting list exchange — If someone wishes to be a living donor for a loved one but is an incompatible match, he or she can donate an organ to an anonymous recipient. This, in turn, moves his or her loved one up the waiting list.
- Incompatible blood type — This occurs when a living kidney donor’s blood type is incompatible with the recipient. To decrease the chance of rejection, the recipient receives specialized treatment before and after the operation.
- Incompatible antibodies — Some candidates’ protein antibodies reject the donor’s organ, which can cause a failed transplant. With special treatment, however, this situation can be prevented.
LIVING DONORS MUST…
- Donate voluntarily. At any time during the donation process, a living donor may change his or her mind. The donor’s decision and reasons will be kept confidential.
- Be in good health. In general, donors should not have high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease or heart disease.
- Be 18–60 years old (in most cases).
- Complete clinical evaluations. Beyond the initial donation criteria, physical and psychological evaluations must be performed to confirm compatibility with a recipient.
- Give informed consent. Transplant centers must ensure that the prospective donor has been informed regarding the aspects of living donation and its possible outcomes.
If you are interested in becoming a living donor, confer with your healthcare provider.